Comment on FR Doc # N/A
This is a Comment on the Department of Education (ED) Notice: Request for Information To Gather Technical Expertise Pertaining to Data Elements, Metrics, Data Collection, Weighting, Scoring, and Presentation of a Postsecondary Institution Ratings System
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LeTourneau University would like to applaud President Obama’s goal of increasing access, affordability, and transparency of outcomes for higher education in the United States. LeTourneau University is also deeply concerned with these issues.
Despite good intentions, LeTourneau University has concerns over the ranking system that the President proposes. One of the hallmarks of the American university system is the diversity of institutions that has developed to meet the various needs of our students. “Institutional fit” is a key determinant of student success and utilizing a single ranking system may limit the ability of students and parents to identify those institutions that will truly provide the best fit for their students. The ranking system as currently proposed diminishes the importance of the emotional, social, ethical, and spiritual development of students that occurs during the college years. For many students and their families, these aspects of the college experience are as important as preparation for employment. While job preparation is paramount from the nation’s perspective, we cannot discount the importance of the preparation of an educated, emotionally mature citizenry to participate in our democracy.
Despite our concerns over the implementation of a single set of measures to rate institutions, as we noted above, we support the federal government’s role in encouraging greater transparency from institutions of higher learning. LeTourneau University participates in the U-CAN project which resulted from the efforts of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities to meet the calls for greater transparency that have become more pronounced over the last decade. The U-CAN measures were developed based on feedback directly from students and parents, is user-friendly and easy to understand, and provides both the quantitative and qualitative information needed to help consumers identify the best “fit” for their student. Efforts such as this and the Voluntary System of Accountability developed by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities and the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities have substantially increased the information available to consumers from participating colleges. We would encourage the administration to revisit these voluntary measures and consider ways to encourage greater participation.
In addition to our concerns about a single set of measures generally, we have specific concerns about the use of graduate earning as a metric. Salaries vary widely based throughout the country which could lead to institutions being penalized based on where their graduates choose to work. The proposed ranking system needs to take into account the differences in pay scales for similar jobs throughout the country. The metric on graduate earnings also rewards degrees with higher earning potential: i.e. engineering, finance, law, medicine, etc.; while penalizing schools that train large numbers of teachers, social workers, and artists. It also penalizes institutions whose graduates may choose to be stay-at-home-parents. In the last two cases, the focus on graduate earnings could threaten the care and education of our nation’s children.
Finally, LeTourneau University feels that by limiting funding to institutions based on a ranking system, will may actually limit access of many college students. Students may not be able to identify and attend the college that best fits their needs, because the institution’s ranking limits the amount of aid based on measures that are of greater importance to policy-makers than students. This is especially pertinent to adult learners who work full-time and may only be able to attend colleges within their community. We hope that any ranking system would take into account the diversity of colleges and universities within our nation and the variety of students attending them so that we may continue to increase college access and completion within our country.
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Comment Period Closed
Jan 31 2014, at 11:59 PM ET
Tracking Number: 1jy-8a5x-bt0w
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Date Posted: Feb 6, 2014
Submitter Name: Dale Lunsford
Country: United States
State or Province: TX
Category: Four-Year Public Institution of Higher Education